Tennessee is faced with having to replace Tyler Bray at quarterback in the first season under new head coach Butch Jones, and rising junior Justin Worley is the early favorite to get the nod over redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and true freshmen Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.
However, if Jones wants to make a splash and have a really hotly-contested quarterback competition this time next year, then he’ll enter the Gunner Kiel sweepstakes and try to bring in the former Notre Dame quarterback to Knoxville.
Kiel announced late last week that he would be leaving the program after redshirting in 2012 and sitting behind rising redshirt sophomore Everett Golson, who helped lead the Fighting Irish to the BCS National Championship Game after an undefeated regular season.
Rather than sit behind Golson on the depth chart for the foreseeable future, Kiel elected to transfer to pursue a starting job.
I don’t view Worley as anything more than a stopgap measure at the position, but Dobbs and Ferguson have the talent and confidence to be potential difference makers for the Volunteers. That said, as promising as the freshman are, Jones should be interested in the former five-star prospect.
Kiel has a big strong arm and would be an ideal fit in the offensive scheme that Jones runs, and a quarterback like Kiel will allow the coach to have a prolific arm for three seasons while his young quarterbacks develop physically and mentally.
Tennessee is in good shape with Dobbs and Ferguson moving forward, but it shouldn’t be enough to turn down Kiel simply because of their potential.
No coach has ever complained of having too many talented quarterbacks, and adding Kiel to the mix would only add to the talent pool that figures to strengthen under Jones every passing year.